Certain dressings are treated with chemicals to improve wound healing.

In the wound care industry, dressings are described as either impregnated or non-impregnated. That distinction has to do with whether an impregnated dressing – be it gauze, a bandage, etc. – is treated with a special chemical agent that promotes increased wound healing and a generally more sterile environment. According to Wound Source, these compounds must be paired with a secondary dressing, as they are generally non-adherent to most wound beds. There are a number of preferred impregnating mixtures, and each one has its own use and accompanying benefits. Here is some insight into the most widely used forms of impregnated dressings:

1. Silver impregnated dressings

Among the most popular forms of dressing agents, silver is utilized to help reduce the spread of bacteria and other harmful contaminants. Most often, physicians will pair silver with alginate or foam dressings, which improve its bacteria-fighting capabilities. Speaking with the journal Podiatry Today, Dr. William Ennis said silver is so frequently used because it works against a wide array of microbial properties. Additionally, silver is an especially healthy option compared to some other chemicals, as it produces far fewer toxic metabolites. As a result, silver dressing can be used on almost any lower extremity wound, including heel abrasions and various ulcers.

2. Honey impregnated dressings

According to a June 2015 report published in the journal Wounds, honey has been used to treat cuts, abrasions and other injuries for a few thousand years. However, it’s only in the last several decades that researchers have begun to truly comprehend how honey works to efficiently heal wounds. Like silver, honey has broad-spectrum applications, but it works a bit differently than its counterpart. The acid found in honey causes an uptick in oxygenation, which makes the wound bed all but inhospitable for most forms of bacteria. It’s worth noting, though, that there are several different kinds of honey – like fireweed, sage and orange blossom – and each variety is uniquely potent as an antimicrobial agent.

3. Iodine impregnated dressings

Anyone who has experienced a cut or scrape is likely familiar with the use of iodine. This chemical is used extensively as a powerful disinfectant. It only makes sense, then, that iodine would also be used in dressings. Yet, according to a 2011 study organized the University of York, iodine is properly suited for very specific wounds. Among a number of trials, iodine worked best in healing chronic ulcers and low-level burns, as the chemical was adept at destroying bacteria in these unique wound beds.

4. Methylene blue dressings

Referred to almost exclusively as methyl blue, this wound agent is normally paired with gentian violet. According to the DermNet New Zealand Trust, gentian violet has been used since 1890, and is best at combating a variety of fungal strains. It is not, however, quite as effective as an antibacterial. That’s where methyl blue comes in handy, as it’s great at countering several bacteria, including vancomycin-resistant enterococcus. Hydrofera Blues is one of the most popular dressings featuring this methyl-gentian combination. This dressing is used to treat everything from diabetic ulcers to wounds that come as a result of acute respiratory distress syndrome. Hydrofera Blue is noted for being more absorbent than other dressings, especially silver and foam, and doesn’t hinder growth factor activity.

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